A Conservative MP was forced to apologize to the federal public safety minister Tuesday for calling him a “tool” in the House of Commons.
But when put on the spot by the House Speaker, Ontario Tory Ben Lobb would only say he was sorry if Ralph Goodale was “offended” by his question period heckle.
The moment happened as Goodale attempted to beat back pressure from the Tories to create an online, publicly-accessible registry for high-risk sex offenders, made possible by legislation passed by the previous government in 2015.
Public Safety officials have raised concerns about the costs of such an RCMP database, as well as the spectre of vigilante-style violence.
Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson said it was “ridiculous” that big-spending Liberals could argue they lack the funds for a registry that he said would protect kids from dangerous people “living in their neighbourhoods.” No Canadians will buy that excuse, he said.
“Do the right thing now. It’s not that hard,” Nicholson said.
'You're the tool'
Goodale began to respond that the “critical tool” for public safety is the national sex offender registry, created by a Liberal government in 2004.
“You’re the tool,” Lobb blurted, according to several reporters. The remark yielded a few chuckles.
Goodale went on to say the existing registry ensures the correctional system notifies police if there is any danger surrounding an offender’s release.
“The police make sure, if there is any danger in the situation, that they work with the local community to keep Canadians safe,” Goodale said.
House Speaker Geoff Regan then called on Lobb, the MP for Huron-Bruce, to own up to his unparliamentary language.
“I apologize if the minister was offended by my comment. Apologize for that,” Lobb said, spurring some jeers.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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